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Thursday, 2 April 2009

Expectations of online government

Attribution: Diane Cline

US government web professionals just held a 500 strong 'govcamp' in Washington DC.

The blogged reaction from attendees has been positive and some stuff sounded amazing. Matthew Burton wrote about one session:

Managing Sensitive Data in a Web 2.0 World. Half of the attendees were from the Intelligence Community. The other half were from transparency advocacy groups that fight government secrecy. These groups' interests are seldom aligned, yet it was one of the most lively sessions of the whole weekend: the intelligence geeks were giving the transparency wonks ideas for platforms that can effectively manage the tangle of overclassified (and illegally classified) data that has arisen in recent years.

Lots is online, n'est ce pas, and there's some fascinating stuff.

Here's video of some of the fantastic murals created out of sessions (by a professional artist):

Something which leapt out at me (perhaps because it was at the top!) was the results of a January survey of 385 people done by the American equivalent of directgov,

Although the context was supposed to be 'social media', some results somewhat throw that descriptive term around.

The survey results included:

  • People are interested in interacting with govet through social media
  • Credibility of gov information is critical for respondents
  • Facebook is the preferred social media tool among respondents
  • People interested in having conversations with the government
  • People use search engines to find information more than any other tool

Actually, in the UK that would be search engine as one dominates. But if others drive specialist traffic then they're worth paying attention to.

Top ways citizens want to interact:

  • Emergency alerts
  • Voting and election information
  • Way to contact elected officials
  • Government forms
  • My rights as a citizen
  • 60% interested in government information on non-government sites (e.g. wikipedia)
  • People expressed interest in rating government publications and information

These last two rang bells with me about a couple of ideas I've had.

Interaction with services can (could) take place elsewhere on the web. Things like free content and information pipes as well as widgets can (could) help.

Instead of putting the comment form several clicks away, why not have it on the bottom of every page?

No presentation up on their site about this or much detail on other sessions yet up but good to hear some echo on those ideas!

There's also Picasa tagged photos here and Flickr here (and video here) and I must say that one thing I noticed was just how many men were wearing suits, on a weekend. Quite a contrast with our barcamp ...


A Uk localgovcamp is being organised for Birmingham in June.

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